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GardenSMART :: Keep Trees Hydrated And Healthy In Winter

Keep Trees Hydrated And Healthy In Winter

By The Davey Tree Expert Company
Photograph courtesy of The Davey Tree Expert Company

A combination of winter’s dry air, low melting precipitation, little soil moisture and fluctuating temperatures can be hard on trees and shrubs. Depending on where you live, there often can be little or no water to provide soil moisture, particularly from October through March.

According to arborist Kevin Marks with Denver’s Davey Tree, watering, especially during a dry winter, prevents root damage. Roots continue to grow even as soil temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

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“Affected plants may appear normal and resume growth in the spring. However, weakened plants may die in late spring or summer when temperatures rise. Weakened plants are also subject to pests and diseases,” Marks says.

Woody plants with shallow root systems require supplemental watering during extended dry fall and winter periods. These include but are not limited to: all maples, all fruit trees, lindens, honey locust, hawthorns, willows, oak, and mountain ash.

Evergreen plants that benefit include pine, spruce, fir, arborvitae, juniper, Oregon grape-holly, boxwood, and Manhattan euonymus.

Tree and Shrub Watering Basics

  • Winter watering should be done from October through March.
  • Water only when air temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Apply water so it will have time to soak in before possibly freezing at night.
  • Monitor weather conditions and water during extended dry periods once or twice per month.
  • Trees obtain water best when allowed to soak into the soil.
  • Watering is best done directly to the most critical part of the root zone using a deep-root fork or needle, sprinkler or soft spray wand.
  • Apply water to many locations under the dripline and beyond if possible.
  • As a general survival rule, apply 10 gallons of water for each diameter inch of the tree.
  • Add a layer of mulch to conserve soil moisture.

Following these watering guidelines will ensure trees survive the winter and can continue being the most valuable asset in the landscape. When watering, always follow local irrigation ordinances. Questions? Find a local, certified tree care specialist at Davey Tree.

With more than 10,500 employees throughout North America, The Davey Tree Expert Company provides solutions for residential, utility, commercial and government clients. Rooted in research, the company’s vision is to achieve balance among people, progress and the environment. Tree experts since 1880, Davey provides diversified tree services, grounds maintenance, and environmental services. Celebrating 40 years of employee ownership, Davey is one of the largest employee-owned companies in the U.S. and is headquartered in Kent, Ohio. Want to join us? Discover your Davey career, and apply today.


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